The members of 311 are some of the biggest cannabis advocates in modern music. This year they are putting their money where their music is, and launching a new line of cannabis products. The Grassroots Uplifter is a new vapor pen personally designed by 311. Nick Hexum the band’s vocalist and guitar player lead the design process. He sat down with the Travel Joint to discuss the Grassroots Uplifter and the future of brand name cannabis. 311 is constantly touring and will take to the high seas when the 311 Cruise sets sail for Cozumel next spring. The Grassroots Uplifter is available in California, Washington and Colorado with plans for expansion in compliance with all applicable state laws.
There is a lot of pride in making the Grassroots Uplifter from scratch. To start would you walk us through the your design process?
It was nearly three years ago that I started to see vapeing all over. I said “you know if somebody really nails this for cannabis, with a great disposable that’s totally hassle-free, that’s going to be an amazing product.” Meaning it’s discreet and not wasteful and it tastes the same from beginning to end.
I went around to dispensaries and bought vapes that existed in the field and there was some good stuff, but I saw a lot of ways it could be a lot better. So I really started tinkering, taking them apart to see how they worked.
Part of the research was “what concentrate is best?” From learning about the process we settled on a Co2 oil as being our preferred method. There are plenty of ways to medicate, enjoy and partake but we were really going for the premium, for the people that like organic food and nonGMO. So part of designing the hardware started out with drawing the tank, asking which battery to use, what type of burner to use. We ended up going with a nickel burner. We went through a bunch of revisions and prototypes.
Some things would only work for one week or got fogged up, so there was a lot of revisions. Fortunately the guys in the band  were plenty happy to test the nickel one that my design partner came up with. And then we really settled-in with the Uplifter. And as good as I think the Uplifter is, we have also since come up with a bunch of ways to improve it. So we are all about innovation and we are going to be coming out with some new products shortly, including an update on the Uplifter.
What will vape connoisseurs be sure to appreciate about the Grassroots Uplifter?
I hope the first thing that catches their eye is the 311 logo. I think we are a trusted brand, we try to get really good value with our products and ticket prices and so forth. So hopefully that transfers over and people know we put the same type of care into this product. And people will be able to see what is in it with the clear tank, so you can see the oil and see how much is left, see the purity of it. And the vape pen just has a sleek, sexy look with the stainless body to it. It was a lot of fun to design.
Is the Grassroots Uplifter strain specific?
No, I think ideally in each shop there would be sativa, a hybrid, and an indica. We are also talking to some CBD makers for people that just want CBD, a non-psychoactive with very very low THC. I mean my mom is fighting multiple myeloma, which is a form of bone marrow cancer. She just wants the CBD, because she likes to have a clear head. So we are looking into both the medical and recreational side.
So the Uplifter is not strain specific, it is made for high viscosity. It needs to have the right viscosity, because a lot of these concentrates come out like sludge and that would not work well. So I have good oil makers and extractors that make organically-grown pure Co2 that does not need any polyethylene glycol, caprylyl glycol, coconut oil, vegetable glisten – all the things people are cutting cannabis with, we don’t do any of that.
So for Pure Co2, I need an extractor that can do it right and come out with the right viscosity to work, which has been a big part of the research. We do all that for our customers so they don’t have to worry about it. You just open it and you puff. You don’t have to dry, you don’t have to fill. Some people enjoy more of a hands-on type of cartridge style where they want to reuse the battery or they want to fill it themselves. So we do have options for the real aficionado connoisseur types, but the basic Uplifter is for people who want to grab something, take a puff, and go.
Who is processing the extractions?
In California there is a company called True Co2 who is just an excellent extractor. They fill and distribute the Uplifter. And in Colorado there is a company called Tabernash, who are ready to fill our vapes and distribute to the dispensaries there. We are working with a company called Evergreen Extracts in Washington state. And we would love to have a Nevada distributor. So if there is somebody making good Co2 oil – we would love to talk to you.
What makes the Grassroots Uplifter such a great project for 311 to take on now?
I think it is because 311 started as a band, but became more of a movement, it is a lifestyle. It is about positive people that want to get together and have a good time, there is a party-vibe to us. So doing things like the cruise, which we just announced is going to Mexico. And then doing 311 Day which is kind of like our convention. And then coming out with our own beer (311 Amber Ale) and then coming out with lifestyle products like the Uplifter, it just seemed like the perfect fit, because it’s a way of life and a different way for people to enjoy a non-destructive positive vibe.
Is there anything else on your upcoming Vegas show?
I think it has become a nice tradition, 4th of July weekend with the beach shows and fireworks. And we had a blast doing it last year, it was a very high-energy crazy show. 4th of July in Vegas has become a bit of an event, where if we are not coming to a fan’s hometown or if a fan wants a more immersive 311 experience, they will come to Vegas for the two days. So we are definitely looking forward to that.
Stay Lifted – The Travel Joint